Online business: see how to set up one and profit from the internet

Online business is a great opportunity to undertake on the internet. Furthermore, it is an already consolidated and rapidly growing market.

E-commerce, or electronic commerce, are types of online businesses that grew 48% in 2021 compared to 2020, moving R$ 2.3 billion. 

“Online business involves commitment from the entrepreneur and a lot of customer focus“, says the business consultant at Sebrae Vanessa de Oliveira. 

The wide variety of business types offers options for different specialties, types of activities, structure and income. 

Therefore, understand more about online businesses, what types exist and tips for having a profitable online business. 

What are online businesses?

Online businesses are businesses and companies conducted via the internet, that is, in the digital environment. Thus, they involve the sale of goods, services and solutions, such as software.

Therefore, all activities in which products and services are traded on digital platforms are considered a business online. 

Furthermore, they are also called e-business (electronic business, in English), they can be classified into two types: pure-play – electronic only – and brick and click – they exist online and offline. 

Types of online businesses

There are several types of business online, from e-commerce to mentoring and consultancy, which can start with little or no financial investment. 

However, some of these types require specific knowledge about the niche they are targeting. Therefore, for other types of business, there is a need for a physical product. 

Therefore, understand some of the types of online businesses below: 

  • Online service provision – Various digital platforms can be used to find companies and individuals who need specific services, such as design, content production, programming. Just create a profile and go in search of opportunities. 
  • Affiliate model – An affiliate is a person who promotes other people's products and services on the internet in exchange for a commission. In general, online courses, ebooks, video classes, etc. are sold. There are several affiliate marketing platforms.
  • Digital producer –  This is someone capable of producing content on a specific subject in a specific niche for different platforms such as a website, blog and YouTube channel. 
  • Infoproduct and product launcher – Having knowledge in digital marketing and mastering sales tools is essential for launching infoproducts and products in general
  • Dropshipping – E-commerce model to act as an intermediary between suppliers and consumers. In this model, it is not necessary to have stock of the product sold. 
  • Marketplace –  Sites where you can register to use the platform of these sites to sell your products.
  • E-commerce – Virtual store to sell all kinds of items, from clothes to food. 
  • Dark kitchens and dark stores – Dark kitchens are kitchens set up to only handle delivery of orders made through apps. Dark stores are places for storing, sorting and shipping purchases made exclusively online. 
  • Consulting and mentoring – Experts on a given subject can provide consultancy and mentoring to companies, educational institutions and individuals. 

5 online business ideas

There are several ideas for starting a profitable online business. To do this, it is necessary to focus on research, behaviors and needs of the target customer.

The beginning entrepreneur can think about areas of interest and see if it makes sense with the consumer market, as the business is done for the customer and not for the entrepreneur.

In this sense, bringing to the market something that satisfy a customer need at the same time as making a profit for the company constitutes a profitable business. 

“At the beginning, this process can be more challenging, so it involves commitment from the entrepreneur and a lot of focus on the customer”, explains Sebrae business consultant Vanessa Helena de Oliveira. 

Finally, check out the ideas that are quickest to be profitable generally follow trends in purchasing behavior. 

We have selected 5 ideas for starting an online business. Are they: 

  1. online store or e-commerce; 
  1. sell via dropshipping;
  1. develop APPs;
  1.  make a podcast;
  1. take a physical business to sell online through social networks and marketplaces.

Benefits of Online Business

There are several benefits of online business, from availability to serve customers to maintenance costs. 

And many online businesses do not require the use of complex and difficult tools. In many cases, it is enough to have an email and website to communicate. 

See below some benefits of an online business. 

  • Low operating cost: Compared to traditional businesses, online businesses have lower maintenance costs. Depending on the business, there is no physical structure, which helps eliminate expenses with rent, electricity and water.
  • For some businesses, little investment startsl: some businesses only require one device, such as a cell phone, computer or tablet, connected to the internet.
  • Availability 24 hours a day and 7 days a week: because it is online, it is possible to serve customers every day of the week and at any time. 
  • Global reach: Online businesses can serve audiences in different locations. 
  • Remote operation: online business can be operated from anywhere with internet access;  
  • Plenty of information: everything that is done in an online business can be measured through data, which are a powerful tool. 

How to set up an online business? 

To set up an online business, the first step is to understand the target audience, that is, seek information about this audience, their needs and tastes. 

“The internet is very broad with different possibilities, so don't try to sell 'everything' to everyone”, advises Vanessa. 

A basic and effective strategy for starting a business is to focus on a specific audience. Then, direct the product mix, pricing and commercial strategy that serves this audience. 

Next, you should focus on finding quality suppliers and analyzing the competition that exists in the chosen niche to develop the business.

The next step is to define which channels best meet this idea: will it be social networks, online store, marketplaces? 

Each channel works differently and serves a customer's purchasing journey differently. “It is worth remembering the importance of investing in investor training in these channels”, highlights the Sebrae consultant.

The choice is based on the business model that is being created and that makes sense for the consumer market. 

Online business plan: how to do it?

The online Business Plan is a way for entrepreneurs to plan and even make mistakes before investing their resources in the business. It will serve as a parameter for decision making. 

The initial stage of the business plan is market analysis: customer, supplier and competitors. In addition, it also goes through business structure, financial analysis to see the viability of the idea up to the implementation plan.

In a digital business, the plan will have to contain characteristics such as: 

  • digital payment methods;  
  • sales platforms;
  • dissemination platforms; 
  • delivery logistics;
  •  digital service, which needs to be agile and provide a better shopping experience for the customer.

5 tips for managing an online business

Sebrae business consultant Vanessa Helena de Oliveira gives five tips for managing an online business. 

See what they are below: 

  1. Study the platforms and how they work;
  2. Observe customer behavior metrics at the time of purchase;
  3. Answer by remembering that there are people on the other side;
  4. Machines and the internet do not sell alone;
  5. Online businesses need constant care and management.
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